Don’t Rent to Us

Kathleen and I have lived together for almost five years. We get along really well, we cohabitate peacefully, and we’ve remained close friends regardless of any typical roommate-related disagreements that may have come up.

But we’re cursed.

When we first moved in together, we found a nice spot in the Fan. As with many Fan apartments, this one too was inundated with mice, mold, leaks, broken appliances, broken locks, drafty windows and warped doors. But we just chalked all that stuff up to the drawbacks of an old building as we laughed and hugged and told each other how much we liked living together.

And then we got the hell out of there before the roof collapsed in on us.

From there, we moved to an apartment building in Shockoe Bottom. You know, something more stable and up-to-date with more credibility and fewer rodents.

But somehow our complications still followed us.

And I’m not talking about minor concerns like an occasional light bulb replacement. I mean, major issues.

THE GARBAGE DISPOSAL

Our first order of business when we moved in: have a broken garbage disposal. Now, we know the rules of owning a disposal and we didn’t put anything suspicious in it. If that’s what you’re thinking.

It just kept breaking on its own. We’d have to plunge out its contents and wash them back down, then make a service request with the building maintenance crew. They’d fix it, and it would be fine for a little while, and then it would break again.

Finally they gave in, and installed a brand new disposal. It worked beautifully and we lived happily ever after.

“Whew, glad that’s been resolved and we can move on with our lives without having to think about any other household disturbances,” we both thought, like idiots.

THE PANTRY DOOR

Our pantry door was one of those stupid sliding/folding doors that was a horrible off-white color and made a nails-on-a-chalkboard scraping noise whenever anyone opened it. And as if all that stuff wasn’t bad enough, it would frequently pop off the door frame and flap freely into the kitchen like a flag in the wind.

After many maintenance calls, we finally figured out that we could just pop it back in ourselves.

Okay…that one was partially our fault.

THE TIME WE ALMOST DIDN’T GO TO EUROPE BECAUSE OUR KITCHEN FLOODED WITH WHITE PAINT WATER AS WE WERE PACKING TO LEAVE

Then there was the time we almost didn’t go to Europe because our kitchen flooded with white paint water as we were packing to leave.

While we sat on the floor of our dining room making the last minute additions and checks, we heard a steady drip of water coming from the kitchen. We got up to find our entire sink filled with this chalk-colored liquid, brimming over and spilling onto the floor in a manner as if it had no intention of stopping.

I assume it got resolved, though, because by the time we came home two months later, it didn’t do that anymore.

THE LAUNDRY ROOM

If you missed this piece about how we got kicked out of our last apartment, here’s your chance to read it. To summarize (but then go read it because it’s an absolute knee-slapper!): Our laundry room flooded approximately once a week for over a year. No matter what the maintenance crew did and no matter how many times they came to do it, the laundry room continued its debauchery. It led to mold, cracked floor tiles, warped floorboards, and many wet kitchen mats.

And don’t even get me started on the resulting cockroaches, as I might curl up into a ball of hyperventilation on my kitchen counter again.

In the end, we never saw this one the whole way through because our landlords politely moved us to a new unit so that they could fix the issue once and for all.


So, great! We’ve moved out of the cursed apartment and into a fresh start.

Or so we thought.

But just like when we moved out of the apartment in the Fan, our issues continued to follow us. But this time the issues graduated from minor annoyances to full-on malfunctioning appliances.


THE REFRIGERATOR(S)

The first week in our new apartment, I went to grab something from the refrigerator before leaving for work. I noticed it was a little…unchilled. I touched another thing. Unchilled. Another thing. Unchilled.

What the…?

Unbeknownst to us, our entire refrigerator had shut down in the middle of the night amidst our slumber. So we set aside the food items that were salvageable, and broodingly threw away the rest. We made a less-than-friendly call to our management office, who, to their credit, took care of the issue promptly. We had a new refrigerator by the next day.

I won’t go into the tedious details of the rest of the fiasco. But I’ll just tell you that this exact circumstance happened two more times. TWO MORE TIMES.

Refrigerator breaks. We have to throw away our perishables. We call our landlords. They provide a new refrigerator. Repeat.

Finally, they wised up and realized that we couldn’t be trusted with just any old, used refrigerator. We needed a brand new one.

And so that’s what we got.

THE OVEN

We started to notice that the front right burner wasn’t warming up very quickly, or getting as hot as the others. Eventually we noticed that it barely worked at all. And then we noticed that it was cold metal coils no matter how high the dial was turned.

So we informed our landlords.

I guess at this point they knew they just needed to cut to the chase when it came to us, because shortly thereafter, we came home and had an entire, brand new oven.

Perhaps that was a bit extreme. To be honest, I didn’t think one non-working burner was that big of a deal. But who can say no to a never-before-used flat top stove?

AND NOW…THE DISHWASHER

There’s not really a good story to this. I guess I could try to spin it in an interesting manner, but you get the idea at this point: after awhile, we began to observe that the appliance in question wasn’t working as well as it should have been. Then eventually it stopped working altogether.

And yesterday, we got word that we’re getting a brand new one.


Just as a disclaimer: Before you start thinking that it’s the quality of the apartment building itself and not us that’s cursed (because, yes, we thought this too), we became aware that none of our neighbors have had as many home-related problems as we’ve had. But at least our curse comes with new stuff.


So, to the River Lofts management team and leasing office: I’m sorry you ever decided to rent to us, and I know you’re sorry too. But if you wouldn’t mind hurrying it up with that dishwasher already, that would be great. I’m just really tired of hand-washing everything, okay?

Love,

Rachel and Kathleen

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Farewell, Crossroads

Well, friends and readers, the day has come. I’ve found a full time job. Which means a whole lot of things, but one of them is that I’ll have to quit my part time job at Crossroads Coffee and Ice Cream.

In all my experience in the service industry, this has easily been the most consistently laidback position I’ve ever worked. I’m going to miss the coworkers, the laughs, and above all, the free coffee. But what I’ll miss more than anything are the regulars.

A 14-year-old coffee shop located in the middle of a neighborhood on a high-traffic road is bound to bring in a lot of regular customers. I would like to take this time to commemorate each of them, but, to protect their privacy from my high profile blog, I’m just going to refer to all of the regulars by their orders instead of their names.


Cinnamon Raisin Bagel with One Egg Patty and a Side of Grape Jelly

I don’t really understand your breakfast preferences but you are the smiliest person I’ve ever met and are the only white person in my current life who calls me “Miss Rachel.”

Large Iced Coffee in a 24-oz Tervis Tumbler with Refill

This time two years ago, if someone had asked me if it was possible for someone to drink that much coffee in the span of 15 minutes, I would have said no. Thank you for showing me that anything is possible.

Large Coffee and a Cinnamon Chip Scone

It’s pronounced “scone.” NOT “SCON.”

Small Coffee with a Fruit and Yogurt Parfait

You’re shy and sweet and smile a lot, and you always insist on buying something you could just make at home. I will miss our brief interactions, many of which consist of me commenting on your scrubs.

Large Nonfat Decaf Latte

What’s the point?

Egg Sandwich on a Croissant with Pesto

Thank you for the weird cartoon you drew me last year, acknowledging how much you enjoyed the sandwich I made.

Pork Rinds

Hey, lady, I saw you sneaking pork rinds into Crossroads every day. And not buying anything. And getting mad at me whenever I ask you not to bring in outside food because it’s a health code violation. I sure am going to miss you. And your crazy eyes. And your bigoted conversations about gay marriage.

Everything Bagel with Vegan Cream Cheese and Avocado

It took me forever to realize…

Egg and Cheese Sandwich on Wheat Bread

…that you two were married.

Large Mocha Smoothie with Whip

I’m sincerely sorry that you dislike your job as a teacher so much. I’m sorry that you have a classroom ratio of 30:1. I agree that the education system is really screwed up. I agree that teachers are treated poorly and severely underpaid. But please stop complaining to your baristas. And for gosh sake’s, tip them once in awhile.

Small Iced Mocha

I look forward to the day when I too can retire and spend my afternoons on the patio of a local coffee shop, wearing Hawaiian shirts and drinking cold beverages.

Large Vanilla Chai Smoothie with Whip

I thought you were kind of strange and then I read a local article about you and how you used to fly Black Op helicopters for the army, so now I’m too intimidated to talk to you.

Egg Patty on Gluten Free Bread with a Dry Almond Milk Cappuccino

You are a person that knows what you like, and I have to admire that about you. But please get yourself acquainted with some seasonings. Or some condiments or something.

Southpark Tie Guy

I couldn’t categorize you by your order because you’re wildly inconsistent, but let me just say that your ability to turn any karaoke song into a show tune is something in my life I never thought I would see.


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Farewell, Crossroads. And an extra special farewell to its regulars. You guys drove me crazy and kept me sane all at the same time.

Or was that the constant over-consumption of caffeine?

Boy, the Crazy Thing About Richmond is that They Really Like Smiling

To all both of you who asked when I was going to do a follow-up to my last blog post about Dunkin’ Donuts (one was my mom, and one was my mom when she was drunk), here it is.

First let’s recap: I went to Boston, it was a great city, I enjoyed myself, and I had a heated run-in with a Dunkin’ Donuts employee where very little smiling happened.

After that incident, I concluded that the stereotype about rude northerners and warm southerners was accurate: all northerners are mean, and all southerners are hospitable and friendly to everyone they meet.

Then I realized, maybe that’s not fair. Maybe it’s just all Dunkin’ Donuts employees who are cold and unfriendly. So I went to one in Richmond to find out for myself. And during my experience there today, the cashier gave me a survey code to fill out online.

Survey

Did you wait in line to place your order?

Yes

√ No

What Dunkin’ Donuts item did you purchase for yourself?

Food only

√ Beverage only

Food and beverage

Please select how you placed your order:

Placed order using the Dunkin’ Donuts mobile app

√ Placed order with a crew member inside the store

Placed order using the drive-thru

Please rate your overall satisfaction with your visit at this Dunkin’ Donuts:

√ Highly satisfied

Satisfied

Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied

Dissatisfied

Highly dissatisfied

Please rate your overall satisfaction with your visit at the coldhearted Dunkin’ Donuts up north:

Highly satisfied

Satisfied

Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied

Dissatisfied

Highly dissatisfied

√ So dissatisfied I don’t think I could ever return

Did you come back inside to get some ice in your coffee because we serve it so gosh darn undrinkably hot all the time?

√ Yes

No

Did the cashier roll her eyes and wish you would go away, or abide by your request with a smile?

Rolled her eyes and wished that I would go away

√ Abided with a smile and even offered to stir the ice into my coffee so that the temperature wouldn’t get off-balance

Did the cashier bid you a good day as you left?

√ Yes, it was so nice!

No, not even close

Please tell us what you liked most about your experience at this Dunkin’ Donuts.

Where do I begin? The second I walked in the door, I was greeted with a huge smile and a meaningful “Good afternoon.” This kind of service does not happen everywhere, I can tell you that.

And then, she was so eager to know how she can improve, that she gave me a survey to fill out. This kind of service also does not happen everywhere.

After I ordered, I walked outside and realized it was too hot to drink right away. What a dilemma! So I went back inside and asked Karen for a few ice cubes. She was so helpful. She walked me through the whole ordeal with ease, even giving me a new lid so as not to spill the coffee everywhere. This kind of service…well, you know.

How would you suggest we can improve our service at Dunkin’ Donuts?

I think you should send all of your Richmond Dunkin’ Donuts employees to Boston to train them how to be nicer.

 

 

The Apartment Transfer

Well, Kathleen and I are moving. We’ve been in our apartment for two years; we love it, and we love its layout, and its views, and its memories. So the fact that we’re moving is not so much because we want to, as we’re being asked to.

And NO, before you ask, it’s not because of our raucous dinner parties or wine stains on the carpet or the time I put a frozen bagel in the microwave and accidentally filled the entire hallway with smoke.

It actually isn’t our fault at all. Calm down. I’ll start from the beginning.

THE GREAT FLOOD

One evening, I was sitting in my apartment, doing apartment things, when I heard a stream of water. “Weird,” I thought, because I didn’t leave any water running. I followed the noise to my laundry room, and saw a PUDDLE of soapy water pooling out from beneath the door and into the attached kitchen.

“Oh my GOSH,” I thought, because boy, it was a lot of water.

I knew I had to call maintenance immediately to prevent any further flooding. I ran over to my living room window (because I don’t get service anywhere else in my apartment), waited a few minutes for my phone to pick up a bar or two (la dee da, hurry up), and frantically dialed emergency maintenance.

Someone arrived a few minutes later, turned off the water, did some maintenance-y stuff, and resolved the issue.

“Well that was an ordeal that I hope never happens again,” I thought, because it was an ordeal that I hoped would never happen again.

Fast forward one week. I’m again sitting in my apartment doing apartment things, when I heard a stream of water. “Weird,” I thought, because I didn’t leave any water running. I followed the noise to my laundry room, and saw a puddle of soapy water pooling out from beneath the door and into the attached kitchen.

You probably know the rest of the story, ending with me thinking “Well that was an ordeal that I hope never happens again.”

FAST FORWARD TO ONE YEAR LATER

That ordeal that I hoped to never happen again happened again almost every week for a year.

They sent in specialists. They tore apart our laundry room. They flushed the pipes. They moved the washing machine to the dining room and cut open a hole in the wall.

A couple of weeks would go by, we would think that the issue had been resolved, and then suddenly it would happen again. The floor tiles started cracking, the wall behind the washing machine started crumbling, and our entire apartment started smelling like mold.

“When will the madness end!” I thought. “I’m tired of wading through my kitchen!” I also thought.

THE COCKROACHES

So, considering we live in an apartment building with hundreds of other tenants, right above a restaurant, in the middle of downtown Richmond, the fact that we hadn’t had a single cockroach sighting in two years was a minor miracle.

Until this summer…

It was a dark and stormy night. I was just coming back from a long day at work, and couldn’t wait to get home and go to sleep. I walked through the hallway of my building. Unlocked my front door. Let out a huge sigh. Set my keys on the hook. Turned on the lights. Looked at the kitchen floor.

And laid eyes upon

The largest

Cockroach

I’ve ever seen

In my entire life.

It wasn’t so much a scream that I let out, as much as a…well, what’s that noise that mother elephants make when their baby is being taken away from them?

Tenants were emerging from their apartments. Dogs were howling. The police arrived. The governor declared a state of emergency.

By the way, I don’t like cockroaches.

This was the first of our cockroach sightings. In the months that followed, both Kathleen and I started finding them in various places around our apartment, including the bathroom, the laundry room, the linen closet, and Kathleen’s bedroom. Then one morning, I was innocently making my bed when one emerged from the covers.

You’re thinking that’s gross and horrifying, and thinking that I must have really panicked when I saw a cockroach crawling around in my bed that I just got out of.

Well joke’s on you if you thought that, because I, in fact, handled the situation very well.

What better way to deal with that kind of thing than hyperventilating through tears in a ball on top of your kitchen counter? And refusing to move until your roommate gets home? And silencing all frantic phone calls from your friends in fear that the cockroach will hear your voice and then know where you are? I know, I can’t think of a more appropriate way to handle it either.

Here’s a picture of it in fact, on the corner of my bed, taken by my much braver roommate before she ended its stupid and meaningless life.

ew

“WE MEAN BUSINESS”

After the multiple cockroach incidents (in particular, that time I just mentioned about the one crawling in my bed. I lied earlier, I didn’t actually handle it very well), Kathleen and I decided that something needed to be done. So we put on our most “we mean business” expressions and went down to the management office together one afternoon.

Our “we mean business” expressions must have worked because they pulled us into the conference room, shut the door, and apologized profusely for all of our troubles. Oh, and gave us $300 off our rent which I thought was kind.

And then they suggested that perhaps we’d like to transfer apartments, and offered to show us some other ones in our building.

So they did. And we picked one without a flooding laundry room or an insect problem.

THE NEW APARTMENT

Is bigger, so that’s cool.

FREE BEER AND WINE AND PIZZA AND HUGS AND GRATITUDE

Although this will likely be the easiest move both myself and Kathleen ever deal with, it’s still a move, and therefore a hassle. So we’d like to invite anyone that wants to participate to help move all of our stuff from our apartment on the second floor of the building to another apartment on the second floor of the same building.

All participants will receive free beer and wine and pizza and at least one hug and unlimited gratitude (unlimited until we forget that you helped us).

Can’t wait to see you all on Saturday!